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USF cancels in-person classes for the rest of the semester

Spring graduation ceremonies are also being postponed.

The University of South Florida is moving all classes for the remainder of the spring semester to an online format, the school announced Tuesday.

The school is also postponing its spring commencement ceremonies scheduled for May.

The decision comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis and the State University System Board of Goverors directed all state universities, including USF, to continue providing remote instruction for the duration of the spring semester.

The school had already planned to continue classes online through at least April 5, but this decision means students will complete the semester online. The semester ends May 7.

Commencements for graduates were to be held May 7-9. The school is now considering expanding its summer commencement ceremonies in August to include spring graduates.

Student support functions including counseling and advising will continue remotely.

Despite shifting to online classes, USF’s campus remains open with university functions like Student Health Services and USF Health clinical operations still ongoing.

All university-sponsored events either on campus or off are canceled until further notice.

USF will continue to evaluate the situation and new guidance will be provided as needed. The university community and public can continue to check the USF coronavirus website for the latest information and resources available.

The announcement comes after several new social distancing mandates are going into effect this week. DeSantis announced Tuesday that bars would be closing statewide for 30-days beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday. DeSantis also ordered all restaurants to operate at half capacity to promote social distancing.

Florida beaches remain open, but no group larger than 10 may gather. That number is based on guidance from President Donald Trump to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10.

In St. Petersburg, any gatherings of 50 or more people are banned including those on private property. The city also moved its last call for alcohol from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 192 people tested positive for the virus in Florida. That number includes 19 individuals who were tested in Florida, but are from out of state. Seven cases have been reported in Hillsborough County. Six people in Florida have so far died from the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The state has so far tested 2,004 individuals. Of those tests, 872 are still pending, which means the number of cases will likely increase as results come in.

So far 5,702 cases have been reported nationwide and more than 190,000 worldwide.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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